Tıurkey's Erdogan halis huge natural gas find

22 August 2020

A Turkish drilling ship has discovered a big natural gas reserve in the Black Sea. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that the drilling ship Fatih, which has been operating in the area since July, had found 320bn cu m (11.3 tr cu ft) of gas. He said it was Turkey's biggest natural gas find to date. If Turkey can extract the gas commercially, it will be able to reduce its reliance on imported energy. President Erdogan said all tests and engineering work had been completed. He added: "This reserve is actually part of a much bigger source. God willing, much more will come.
"There will be no stopping until we become a net exporter in energy." President Erdogan said he hoped to start extracting the gas by 2023.
But energy experts say it could take up to a decade and billions of dollars of investment to get the gas into commercial use. Turkey has also sent a ship to carry out a drilling survey in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Apple first US company to be valued at $2tn

20 August 2020

Tech giant Apple has become the first US company to be valued at $2tn (£1.5tn) on the stock market. It reached the milestone just two years after becoming the world's first trillion-dollar company in 2018. Its share price hit $467.77 in mid-morning trading in the US on Wednesday to push it over the $2tn mark. The only other company to reach the $2tn level was state-backed Saudi Aramco after it listed its shares last December. But the oil giant's value has slipped back to $1.8tn since then and Apple surpassed it to become the world's most valuable traded company at the end of July. Strong sales The iPhone-maker's shares have leapt more than 50% this year, despite the coronavirus crisis forcing it to shut retail stores and political pressure over its links China. In fact, its share price has doubled since its low point in March, when panic about the coronavirus pandemic swept the markets. Tech firms, which have been viewed as winners despite lockdowns, have seen their stock surge in recent weeks, even though the US is in recession.
Apple posted strong third quarter figures towards the end of July, including $59.7bn of revenue and double-digit growth in its products and services segments. The next most valuable US company is Amazon which is worth around $1.7tn. Apple's rapid share price rise is "an impressive feat within a short period of time", said Paolo Pescatore, a technology analyst at PP Foresight. "The last few months have underlined the importance of users and households alike to own better quality devices, connections and services and with Apple's strong broad portfolio of devices and a growing services offering, there are plentiful opportunities for future growth." He said the arrival of gigabit connectivity broadband would offer Apple "endless possibilities". "All eyes are now on the eagerly anticipated 5G iPhone which will fuel further consumer demand," he added. Microsoft and Amazon follow Apple as the most valuable publicly traded US companies, each at about $1.6tn. They are followed by Google-owner Alphabet at just over $1tn.

Robots go their own way deep in the ocean

17 August 2020

"It's very common," says Jess Hanham casually, when asked how often he finds suspected unexploded bombs. Mr Hanham is a co-founder of Spectrum Offshore, a marine survey firm that does a lot of work in the Thames Estuary. His firm undertakes all sorts of marine surveying, but working on sites for new offshore wind farms has become a big business for him. Work in the Thames Estuary, and other areas that were the targets of bombing in World War 2, are likely to involve picking up signals of unexploded munitions. "You can find a significant amount of contacts that need further investigation and for a wind farm that will be established in the initial pre-engineering survey," he says. With that information project managers can decide whether to place turbines and other equipment a safe distance from the suspected bombs, or have them blown up by a specialist firm. At the moment marine surveying is done by teams who go out on boats, collect the data and bring it back for analysis. Sometimes that will involve a relatively small vessel with two crew members, a surveyor and his kit. But bigger inspection projects further out to sea can involve much larger boats, with dozens of crew members, costing in the region of £100,000 per day. The sensor equipment varies according to the job. Sometimes it might be a sonar array towed behind the boat, for other jobs it might be an underwater unmanned vehicle, which can be controlled by surveyors on the surface. Bad weather can disrupt the work and make life uncomfortable. "I've been at sea in force nine and force 10 gales and they're not nice places to work," says Brian Allen, chief executive of Rovco.

Dropshipping: The hustlers making millions from goods they never handle

16 August 2020

Gabriel Beltran moved from Uruguay to Miami with the dream of making it big as a drummer. Five years ago, he was struggling to pay his rent and living on his girlfriend's student loan. Then he made over $20m (£15m) through a little-known online retail technique: dropshipping.
And in bedrooms around the world other savvy individuals are getting rich the same way. The sellers never see their products. They typically remain completely anonymous. And their marketing reaches hundreds of millions of people. Chinese goods The process is simple: the dropshipper goes to an online Chinese marketplace and identifies a cheap product. The seller sets up a flashy website, suggesting the product is made in the US or Europe, and adds a huge mark-up.  The dropshipper uses social media for promotion, often paying influencers to add legitimacy. When an order is received, the seller collects the customer's money, and only then do they buy the product. Finally, the product is shipped directly to the customer from China. In practice, the vendors act as virtual middlemen or women.
All this is legal and often done well. But the anonymity it confers means there is also abuse. The sale of counterfeit products is commonplace, and customers often don't receive their orders. Gabriel started off selling fake NFL products and made $50,000 in just one month. He says he hasn't sold knock-off products since.

Fortnite: Apple ban sparks court action from Epic Games

15 August 2020

Apple has removed Fortnite from its App Store, preventing players from installing one of the world's most popular games on iPhones.
It came after a Fortnite update that let players buy in-game currency at a lower rate if they bought direct from maker Epic Games - bypassing Apple. Epic appeared to know the ban would come, announcing it had filed a legal complaint minutes after the removal.
Apple takes a standard 30% cut of sales from its compulsory payment system. Hours later, Google also appeared to remove the app from its Google Play Store - though it remains available on Android phones through other means, such as Epic Games' own launcher. The court documents allege that Apple effectively runs a monopoly in both deciding what apps can appear on iPhones and demanding its own payment system - with the relatively high 30% cut - is used. Piers Harding-Rolls, games research director at Ampere Analysis, said Epic's update breaking the rules "was done to make Apple remove the app".

Microsoft’s Surface Duo dual-screen smartphone coming Sept. 10 for $1,399

14 August 2020

After nearly a year of anticipation, Microsoft has announced that it is officially launching its dual-screen Surface Duo smartphone on Sept. 10. The handset, which the company debuted last October, will be available for pre-order today and cost $1,399. The Duo is Microsoft’s (MSFT) first smartphone since it killed off its Windows Phone brand in 2017, and in an interesting twist of fate, the Surface Duo will run on Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Android operating system complete with Windows 365 and Android app support. From the look of it, the Duo, which I got to see during a virtual press demo, could offer the kind of jolt the smartphone industry needs, and may give Microsoft a greater foothold in the mobile market.

Google Lookout: App reads grocery labels for blind people

13 August 2020

Google's AI can now identify food in the supermarket, in a move designed to help the visually impaired. It is part of Google's Lookout app, which aims to help those with low or no vision identify things around them. A new update has added the ability for a computer voice to say aloud what food it thinks a person is holding based on its visual appearance. One UK blindness charity welcomed the move, saying it could help boost blind people's independence. Google says the feature will "be able to distinguish between a can of corn and a can of green beans".

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